HomepageNewsRev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, Trustee Emeritus Wilbert D. Abele ’61 to Receive Honorary Degrees

Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, Trustee Emeritus Wilbert D. Abele ’61 to Receive Honorary Degrees

Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, will also deliver the keynote speech during Ursinus College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11.

The Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, one of the nation’s preeminent healthcare advocates and president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity and deliver the keynote speech during Ursinus College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11.

Ursinus will also bestow an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon philanthropist Wilbert D. Abele ’61, an alumnus and trustee emeritus who in 2020 gifted the college the largest single private donation in its history and has long supported the success of Ursinus students.

“Rev. Dr. Marshall-Blake and Mr. Abele are well-known innovators and collaborators, unselfish and unwavering in their commitment to giving back by opening doors to opportunity. Through their work, they represent the very essence of an Ursinus education, they lead by example, and they derive strength and inspiration from the communities they serve,” Ursinus President Robyn Hannigan said.

Under Marshall-Blake’s leadership, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation addresses emerging health needs in southeastern Pennsylvania. She leads strategic, programmatic, and operational efforts to fulfill the foundation’s mission to lead sustainable solutions that improve the health and wellness of the community.

As the vice president of community affairs for Independence Blue Cross, Marshall-Blake develops and manages relationships with community partners to advance its social mission efforts. A leading expert in philanthropy, corporate management, public relations, and communications, Marshall-Blake is involved with more than 30 professional and civic organizations and is an associate minister at the Vine Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia. She is an honorary fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and has been honored for her leadership and community service by numerous national and local organizations.

Wilbert D. Abele '61 Wilbert D. Abele ’61Abele and his wife, Joan, founded the Abele Family Foundation to support the visions of young leaders to impact their communities through the provision of comprehensive scholarships that increase the affordability of and access to a college education. In 2018, they established the Abele Scholars program at Ursinus, which helps fill the financial gaps confronting many students from low- and middle-income families and assists with student debt upon graduation.

The Abeles have supported Ursinus philanthropically for more than 50 years, backing the college’s Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund; campus safety; athletics; innovation and entrepreneurship; science; and ethics. The Abele Foundation’s $11 million commitment to Ursinus in 2020 supports the Abele Scholars program for years to come.

This year marks Ursinus’s 151st commencement ceremony. It will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, under the tent on the lawn in front of the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art. A baccalaureate ceremony precedes commencement on Friday, May 10, at 4 p.m.

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